Two weeks after heavy work on the $14.5 million Florida Road rebuild began, business owners are split on its
Some report clipped sales.
It's certainly affected our business negatively," said Stan Crapo, owner of Star Liquors at 1485 Florida Road, an
outcome he said he expected.
Lagging winter sales tend to rebound in the spring, but customers always remember inconvenience, he said.
They might find themselves at 15th Street, and think, 'Let's just go somewhere else.'"
A month ago, a thirsty driver at the 15th Street/East Third Avenue/Florida intersection would have had to drive 1.8
miles northeast on Florida to get to Star. Now that driver has to take five streets and drive about a mile more,through stoplights in town.
With other liquor stores closer to town, Crapo is using ads and sales to entice customers to make the drive.
Orange barrels now line Florida. Traffic on the road has been reduced to inbound-only and reduced from 35 mph to 25
mph. The city's general contractor, CEI Inc. of Lakewood, expects the project will be wrapped up before next year.
Right now, CEI is relocating storm drains between Island Cove Trailer Park and 15th Street. Durango Public Works
inspector Kris Johnson said crewmen are getting ready to start work on retaining walls for pedestrian walkways.
We've got an all-local labor force," Johnson said. I'd guess about 95 percent of the crew is going to be local guys
when they fully get going."
Some property owners expect the 11-month job to hurt a little this year, but pay off in the end.
It might be a little too early to tell," said Daniel Stewart, owner of Durango Autoworks at 815 Florida Road. But I
do expect some decline."
But for Bo Maloney, owner of J. Bo Pizza at 1301 Florida Road, the punctured sales haven't come.
At this point, I wouldn't say it's affected business negatively at all," he said.
If anything, he said, he's getting more lunch business, as a few regular construction workers are coming in.
It seems like they're doing a great job," Maloney said. This is work that needs to be done."
The Florida Road Reconstruction Project was approved by voters two years ago. An earlier ballot measure to fund the
project failed in 2001, but a new city manager led a new effort in 2008.
Florida will be ripped out, widened and rebuilt from the bottom layer up. When completed, it will feature two through
lanes, a center left-turn lane, retaining walls, bicycle lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks.
The turn lanes should reduce some of the conflicts drivers, cyclists and residence owners complained about for years.
The busy arterial gets about 12,000 to 14,000 vehicle trips per day, a figure predicted by the city and county to grow
as development continues in the ranchlands north of Durango.
Joe Perino, secretary-treasurer of the Durango Gun Club at 580 Florida Road, said members have been shooting later in
the day to avoid traffic but haven't been putting off coming in entirely.
It has affected us very minimally," he said.
CEI project engineer Peter Searle said he's received one complaint so far, from an elderly woman whose mail carriers
couldn't reach her mailbox because of the construction.
Our support hot line has really become an employment hot line," he said.
CEI is looking for concrete carpenters who have experience and can pass drug tests.
We don't want to have to train you," he said.
Laura Melot, co-director of Children's Cornerstone Preschool at 2899 Holly Ave., said the school hasn't been charging
late penalties to parents delayed by road construction. So far, no parents have complained to her, Melot said.
Two parents have complained about getting their kids to Columbine Christian School at 1775 Florida Road on time in the
mornings, said Pastor Aaron Hatfield. But other than that, we're working with it just fine," he said.
With traffic reduced to one way heading into town, CEI is asking outbound drivers to take a different path home - north
on Main Avenue to 32nd Street to East Animas Drive (County Road 250) and back to Florida. The detour takes drivers
right past Rocky Mountain Pawn & Gun at 157 East Animas Drive, a fact not lost on the pawn shop's
tickled-to-death" owner, Bruce Dominey.
We love it," he said. I've got a hundred new people a week come in here and tell me they didn't even know we existed
before they drove by."
Last summer's $1.4 million Florida Road Intersection Project riled drivers with 20-minute waits and frayed the nerves
of business owners - Dominey included - as the project dragged on months past deadline.
It almost makes up for the last time they were working out here," Dominey said.